Monthly Archives: April 2021

Monster Mash: A Sketch-Based Tool for Casual 3D Modeling and Animation

3D computer animation is a time-consuming and highly technical medium — to complete even a single animated scene requires numerous steps, like modeling, rigging and animating, each of which is itself a sub-discipline that can take years to master. Because of its complexity, 3D animation is generally practiced by teams of skilled specialists and is inaccessible to almost everyone else, despite decades of advances in technology and tools. With the recent development of tools that facilitate game character creation and game balance, a natural question arises: is it possible to democratize the 3D animation process so it’s accessible to everyone?

To explore this concept, we start with the observation that most forms of artistic expression have a casual mode: a classical guitarist might jam without any written music, a trained actor could ad-lib a line or two while rehearsing, and an oil painter can jot down a quick gesture drawing. What these casual modes have in common is that they allow an artist to express a complete thought quickly and intuitively without fear of making a mistake. This turns out to be essential to the creative process — when each sketch is nearly effortless, it is possible to iteratively explore the space of possibilities far more effectively.

In this post, we describe Monster Mash, an open source tool presented at SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 that allows experts and amateurs alike to create rich, expressive, deformable 3D models from scratch — and to animate them — all in a casual mode, without ever having to leave the 2D plane. With Monster Mash, the user sketches out a character, and the software automatically converts it to a soft, deformable 3D model that the user can immediately animate by grabbing parts of it and moving them around in real time. There is also an online demo, where you can try it out for yourself.



Creating a walk cycle using Monster Mash. Step 1: Draw a character. Step 2: Animate it.

Creating a 2D Sketch
The insight that makes this casual sketching approach possible is that many 3D models, particularly those of organic forms, can be described by an ordered set of overlapping 2D regions. This abstraction makes the complex task of 3D modeling much easier: the user creates 2D regions by drawing their outlines, then the algorithm creates a 3D model by stitching the regions together and inflating them. The result is a simple and intuitive user interface for sketching 3D figures.

For example, suppose the user wants to create a 3D model of an elephant. The first step is to draw the body as a closed stroke (a). Then the user adds strokes to depict other body parts such as legs (b). Drawing those additional strokes as open curves provides a hint to the system that they are meant to be smoothly connected with the regions they overlap. The user can also specify that some new parts should go behind the existing ones by drawing them with the right mouse button (c), and mark other parts as symmetrical by double-clicking on them (d). The result is an ordered list of 2D regions.

Steps in creating a 2D sketch of an elephant.

Stitching and Inflation
To understand how a 3D model is created from these 2D regions, let’s look more closely at one part of the elephant. First, the system identifies where the leg must be connected to the body (a) by finding the segment (red) that completes the open curve. The system cuts the body’s front surface along that segment, and then stitches the front of the leg together with the body (b). It then inflates the model into 3D by solving a modified form of Poisson’s equation to produce a surface with a rounded cross-section (c). The resulting model (d) is smooth and well-shaped, but because all of the 3D parts are rooted in the drawing plane, they may intersect each other, resulting in a somewhat odd-looking “elephant”. These intersections will be resolved by the deformation system.

Illustration of the details of the stitching and inflation process. The schematic illustrations (b, c) are cross-sections viewed from the elephant’s front.

Layered Deformation
At this point we just have a static model — we need to give the user an easy way to pose the model, and also separate the intersecting parts somehow. Monster Mash’s layered deformation system, based on the well-known smooth deformation method as-rigid-as-possible (ARAP), solves both of these problems at once. What’s novel about our layered “ARAP-L” approach is that it combines deformation and other constraints into a single optimization framework, allowing these processes to run in parallel at interactive speed, so that the user can manipulate the model in real time.

The framework incorporates a set of layering and equality constraints, which move body parts along the z axis to prevent them from visibly intersecting each other. These constraints are applied only at the silhouettes of overlapping parts, and are dynamically updated each frame.

In steps (d) through (h) above, ARAP-L transforms a model from one with intersecting 3D parts to one with the depth ordering specified by the user. The layering constraints force the leg’s silhouette to stay in front of the body (green), and the body’s silhouette to stay behind the leg (yellow). Equality constraints (red) seal together the loose boundaries between the leg and the body.

Meanwhile, in a separate thread of the framework, we satisfy point constraints to make the model follow user-defined control points (described in the section below) in the xy-plane. This ARAP-L method allows us to combine modeling, rigging, deformation, and animation all into a single process that is much more approachable to the non-specialist user.

The model deforms to match the point constraints (red dots) while the layering constraints prevent the parts from visibly intersecting.

Animation
To pose the model, the user can create control points anywhere on the model’s surface and move them. The deformation system converges over multiple frames, which gives the model’s movement a soft and floppy quality, allowing the user to intuitively grasp its dynamic properties — an essential prerequisite for kinesthetic learning.

Because the effect of deformations converges over multiple frames, our system lends 3D models a soft and dynamic quality.

To create animation, the system records the user’s movements in real time. The user can animate one control point, then play back that movement while recording additional control points. In this way, the user can build up a complex action like a walk by layering animation, one body part at a time. At every stage of the animation process, the only task required of the user is to move points around in 2D, a low-risk workflow meant to encourage experimentation and play.

Conclusion
We believe this new way of creating animation is intuitive and can thus help democratize the field of computer animation, encouraging novices who would normally be unable to try it on their own as well as experts who often require fast iteration under tight deadlines. Here you can see a few of the animated characters that have been created using Monster Mash. Most of these were created in a matter of minutes.

A selection of animated characters created using Monster Mash. The original hand-drawn outline used to create each 3D model is visible as an inset above each character.

All of the code for Monster Mash is available as open source, and you can watch our presentation and read our paper from SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 to learn more. We hope this software will make creating 3D animations more broadly accessible. Try out the online demo and see for yourself!

Acknowledgements
Monster Mash is the result of a collaboration between Google Research, Czech Technical University in Prague, ETH Zürich, and the University of Washington. Key contributors include Marek Dvorožňák, Daniel Sýkora, Cassidy Curtis, Brian Curless, Olga Sorkine-Hornung, and David Salesin. We are also grateful to Hélène Leroux, Neth Nom, David Murphy, Samuel Leather, Pavla Sýkorová, and Jakub Javora for participating in the early interactive sessions.

Source: Google AI Blog


Take a look at these pandemic pastimes

I've never spent as much time at home as I have in the last year. Of course, I'm not the only one. Over the past year or so of quarantine, I've found myself searching for new things to do. I searched for “cheesemaking” when my kids asked me to play sous chef, and for “bird watching” and “how to create container gardens” when we started spending more time outside.  Like so many people, I looked up recipes for baking bread. My quarantine search history feels like a bingo card for hobbies. 


This made me wonder what other people were searching for during the pandemic — and  how have these interests changed over time? 


To get an idea, we worked with design studio Polygraph (creators of The Pudding) to create a new interactive tool that allows us to dig deeper into what captivated our year of social distancing. With this new calendar view, you can see what hobbies and interests were trending on any specific day a year ago in the U.S. Each day reflects the topic that saw the greatest growth in search queries compared to one year prior. You can also learn more about a specific topic by visiting the Google Trends website.
Google Trends

Hobbies in 2020 were compared to the search volume in 2019 to calculate percent growth. The hobby with the largest growth was featured on the respective day. Play with the tool here.

Explore more by searching for specific hobbies in the calendar or click to select different dates and view what hobby was keeping us busy at that time last year. (It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one searching for “needlepoint” on April 8 last year.) You can even select a specific hobby and connect with helpful information on the Search results page.

View on Search

Google Trends provides a unique perspective of what we’re currently interested in and curious about. If I learned anything from using this new tool, it’s that we all have more in common than we might think.

Source: Search


News Brief: March updates from the Google News Initiative

Three years ago we created the Google News Initiative to build a stronger future for news. The upheaval of the last year has accelerated the demand for journalism, as well as the need for news businesses to transition to digital and sustainable businesses. As we continue to learn from our news partners around the world, we remain committed to working closely with the journalism community to build the constructive and sustainable news industry that’s necessary for our open societies to thrive. For March updates, keep reading.

Supporting the first diversity guide for German media 

Based on research in 2020, our partner Neue Deutsche Medienmacher*innen (NDM) launched the Diversity Guide for German Media, the first comprehensive handbook for German publishers and broadcasters that aims to provide diversity data, local and international best practices and checklists on team culture, recruiting and reporting. We announced the launch during a press conference with 150 journalists and on the Google Germany blog.

Gathering for a conference on diversity in journalism in Spanish-speaking Latin America

More than 2000 journalists from 18 countries attended the first Latin American Conference on diversity, gender and race in journalism, created in partnership with the Knight Center. A follow-up ebook with articles by the speakers will be published in May.
The Spanish website for disinformation trainings for journalists

Journalist trainings on disinformation, data verification and digital tools are available to Latin American newsrooms for free online

Training on disinformation in times of elections

In an election year throughout Latin America, we launched a series of journalist trainings on disinformation, data verification and digital tools. In partnership with First Draft, LatamChequea and local partners, we’ll provide training in seven countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico. Registrations are free and open online.

Evaluating the health of local news ecosystems

We know that accurate, fact-based news and information is critical for individual, community and local government health. We, along with other funders of news in local communities, share a common challenge: how to assess the health of a given local community’s information ecosystem, and measure change over time.

In collaboration with the Knight Foundation and Democracy Fund, we supported Impact Architects to develop a playbook with a simple set of tools to help communities measure their local news industries, and measure them on an ongoing basis. This playbook was put to the test in nine U.S. communities of various sizes, and in March, we released a report with detailed findings from each of these assessments.

Growing news audiences through the Digital Growth Program

As part of the Digital Growth Program, which was designed to help small and medium publishers grow their online business, we launched new audience development resources including short guides, workshops and labs. The resources build on our analytics tool, News Consumer Insights. Workshops are free and available in English in North America and Asia Pacific, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian

The program aims to provide news organizations with practical tips and strategies to develop and grow their readers over time by better understanding their readers, using data analytics, establishing clear goals and building an organizational culture centered around audience. So far more than 1300 people have joined our workshops, which will continue throughout April and are also available on-demand. 

Bringing the GNI Startups Lab to North America

We kicked off the North American GNI Startups Lab, a six-month accelerator for 10 early-stage news businesses seeking financial sustainability and growth. The Lab is being run in partnership with LION Publishers, and builds on the work of Startups Lab Brazil, which launched last year. We plan to announce additional regions for future labs over the coming months.

Driving innovation around the world

Building on the €150 million Digital News Innovation Fund, GNI Innovation Challenges have supported more than 150 projects that inject new ideas into the news industry. Last month, we launched the second Innovation Challenge in Latin America in Spanish and Portuguese, focused on building sustainability and diversity. Q&As are available in Spanish and Portuguese, and applications are open until May 3. 

Around the world, we’re learning from former Innovation Challenge recipients who are using their funding to drive innovation in news.

a photo of Sylvio Costa, founder of Congresso em Foco

Sylvio Costa, founder of Congresso em Foco

Through the first Latin America Innovation Challenge, Brazilian publisher Congresso em Foco has increased their site traffic by 67% year over year. It also generated enough revenue to build and maintain the largest database of federal parliamentarians in the country. This project helped them to grow their understanding of the Brazilian Congress and new business models for journalism.

A collage of the editors of Vibez

The editors of Vibez, accompanied by the text “Meet the editors” in Polish

In Poland, Wirtualna Polska developed a news service for Millennials and Generation Z readers called Vibez, which recently won the Mobile Trends Awards 2020 after receiving over 150,000 unique users per month and 96% of their traffic from mobile.

Using reader data to boost subscriptions for Finnish publisher Sanoma

riptions at Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s most-read daily newspaper. By feeding audience data to the BigQuery machine-learning platform, Sanoma determines which readers are most likely to pay and what content is most relevant to them. Another tool creates a personalized digital front page, offering relevant articles to likely subscribers. The program has pushed subscriptions to above 400,000 and from 23% to 60% of the publication’s sales.

Increasing user engagement for Jagran New Media with a data-driven content plan 

Through the GNI Data Lab in Asia Pacific, the Hindi news site Jagran.com created a tool for measuring content performance in real time. The dashboard helped editorial teams make more informed decisions, resulting in a 20% increase in article completion rate among the site’s most loyal readers and a 15% increase in the rate at which those readers clicked through to another article. 

Using AI to make Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s paywall smarter

The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z.) now has a valuable aid when it comes to deciding which articles should sit behind the paywall. Using a tool powered by Google’s machine learning, F.A.Z. editors can analyze previous top performers and predict which current articles will produce similar results. The tool has proven accurate — about half of the predicted conversion rates are nearly 100% accurate — but editors still make the final decision.  

That’s all for March updates. To learn more, follow along on our newsletter and social.

Privacy-first web advertising: a measurement update

In January, we shared how Google’s advertising teams have been evaluating the proposals in Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox, an open-source initiative to replace third-party cookies with viable privacy-first alternatives that can support the publishers and advertisers who help keep the web open and accessible.

Today, we’re going to explain how the latest proposals in the Privacy Sandbox can solve for key conversion measurement use cases on the web while preserving privacy – and we’ll also share a new resource to help you learn more about the overall initiative.

Conversion measurement

Chrome’s conversion measurement proposals center around an API that would have the capability to report both event-level and aggregated information. Event-level information is helpful when businesses need data to be more granular, such as deciding how much to bid on impressions or modeling conversions. Aggregated information is important for summarizing campaign performance, like reporting total conversion value or return on investment.

To make sure that the API preserves privacy, and that any data reported can’t be used to track individual people as they move across the web, the API uses one or more of the following techniques:

  • Aggregate the data that is reported so that each person’s browsing activity and identity remain anonymous among a large group of conversions.
  • Limit the amount of information reported about each conversion, so it’s not possible to expose the identity of the person behind the conversion.
  • Add "noise" to the data reported, which protects an individual’s privacy by including some random data along with the actual conversion results.

The Chrome team recently shared new proposals for how the API could apply these privacy considerations while reporting view-through conversions and cross-device conversions:

For view-through conversion measurement, Chrome proposes that advertisers use the event-level capability of the API to get a report on the conversions that happen on their website and are attributed to ad views across the web. The browser would enable this by registering the ad impressions that take place across websites and then matching any conversions that happen on an advertiser’s website back to the initial views. To prevent any conversion data from being used to track people individually, the Chrome API would limit the amount of information shared about each conversion and add noise to the data. 

Then, when advertisers are interested in reporting on the total number of view-through conversions, for a video ad campaign as an example, Chrome proposes that they can use the API’s aggregate reporting capability. This would allow advertisers to get more precise information on key metrics for the overall campaign without compromising people’s privacy. That’s because aggregate reporting keeps people’s identities and their browsing histories anonymous as it only shares data across a large group of conversions.

For cross-device conversion measurement, Chrome proposes that advertisers use the API’s event-level capability to report on the conversions that happen on their website and are attributed to ad views or clicks that happen on another device. This would only be possible if the people converting are signed into their browser across their devices. Access to this capability would enable cross-device measurement for all participating ad providers and networks.

The proposals in the Privacy Sandbox will change how measurement works for digital ads, but are designed to support key measurement use cases while protecting people’s privacy. We’re beginning to run simulations to understand how different use cases might be impacted by the privacy considerations made in Chrome’s various proposals and we look forward to sharing our findings in the near future.

Resources

We know that there are many questions about the Privacy Sandbox and that there is broad interest in learning more about each of the proposals. The Chrome team recently built a new website, privacysandbox.com, with an overview of this effort, FAQs, and links to additional resources. We’ll also continue to share regular updates about our work across Google’s ads teams to adopt the Privacy Sandbox technologies for our web advertising and measurement products.

The U.S. and Europe should launch a trade and technology council

Two decades ago, countries saw global trade in technology goods and services as an on-ramp to the economy of the 21st century. International agreements to eliminate barriers to trade in technology goods and services helped enable dramatic increases in technology trade, while countries looked to promote foreign investment in the cutting-edge technologies of the future.  Consumers everywhere got access to new, lower-priced technology, millions of jobs were created and businesses from Paris to Pittsburgh have been able to reach new customers around the world, generating trillions of dollars in sales.


Times have changed: We’re all using digital tools, and recognizing the risks of abuse and the need for responsible innovation. But while well-crafted regulation can help unlock the benefits of technology, an explosion in national policies is detering trade in technology. Those barriers include not just tariffs (which have also beset other sectors), but also trade controls, discriminatory taxes, investment restrictions and novel digital regulations aimed straight at foreign-headquartered companies. In short, we’re seeing the erosion of a carefully nurtured global trading system that has contributed to progress and prosperity in the U.S. and around the world.  


This erosion of trade norms isn’t limited to the U.S.-China relationship. Even more concerningly, the technology trade relationship between the U.S. and Europe — once one of the closest in the world — is fraying.  


In Washington, in recent years, “transatlantic tech policy” has been largely reduced to pressing Europe to follow U.S. supply chain initiatives. Meanwhile Europe has undertaken a broad series of unilateral initiatives in areas ranging from digital taxes to market regulation. Transatlantic coordination has largely become an afterthought, if it’s thought of at all. 


These policy trends hurt both the U.S. and European economies, risking the 16 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic linked to transatlantic trade and investment. They also make it harder for the U.S. and the EU to address new global technology challenges and partner with emerging economies in Asia.


But there’s a better path forward. Coming out of the pandemic, with new momentum behind bilateral cooperation, we have a chance to revitalize the transatlantic technology trade relationship.


The European Commission recently proposed an EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC).  The United States should accept the invitation — and build on it. An expedited high-level trade dialogue on technology issues is critical to avoid unilateral approaches on pressing issues like data flows that are essential to commerce, regulation of digital platforms that we all use every day, and other essential components of a modern economy. A TTC could also prevent divergence on emerging areas like artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies and promote cooperation on third-country technology challenges. 


Of course a TTC needs to be set up for success. When entering trade negotiations, each side typically avoids preemptive or unilateral actions that might foreclose meaningful alignment. In entering a TTC, both sides should commit to meaningful consultation before taking any further actions harming transatlantic tech trade. The U.S. should not enact new privacy or technology trade control regulations without consulting with the EU; the EU should pursue bilateral consultation to ensure technology initiatives like the Digital Markets Act reflect the EU-U.S. values-based alliance. Quickly forming a TTC can help drive a consistent and non-discriminatory approach on these challenging new areas of technology regulation.


The need for alignment has never been greater or more urgent. An aligned approach will promote more tech-enabled economic growth; tech-supported measures to tackle other shared challenges like climate change; and new norms to ensure that technology will — in the words of  U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken — “protect your privacy, make the world safer and healthier, and make democracies more resilient.” 


The historic partnership between Europe and the U.S. faces a profound challenge — but also an opportunity to re-build based on shared values of openness and connectivity. As European Commission Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis said recently: “The bottom line is simple: whatever challenges the EU and U.S. face, there is no stronger values-based alliance in the world … So, even if the current crisis feeds the temptation to look inward, this is not the answer.” We couldn’t agree more.

Expanding support for APAC Search Central Help Communities

As we’ve been continuously working to improve support for website owners in more language markets, we’re very excited to announce the opening of our Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai Search Central Help Communities with support from a global team of community managers that are dedicated to helping Product Experts.

Dev Channel Update for Desktop

The Dev channel has been updated to 91.0.4469.3/.4 for Windows and 91.0.4469.4 for Linux and Mac.

A partial list of changes is available in the log. Interested in switching release channels? Find out how. If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug. The community help forum is also a great place to reach out for help or learn about common issues.

Prudhvikumar Bommana


Google Chrome

Restrict third-party API access to Google Workspace and end user data with new app access control

What’s changing 

You can now block all third-party API access to Google Workspace data with a new setting. This compliments other available OAuth settings which help you control which third-party & internal apps access Google Workspace data

When selected, all third-party apps are denied access to Workspace and end user data, blocking all OAuth 2.0 scopes. This also means that users cannot use their Google Workspace accounts to sign into third-party apps and websites. 

Who’s impacted 

Admins and end users

Why it’s important 

This new setting adds another layer of protection over your Workspace and end user data. Not every third party application has robust security measures in place or conforms to your security policy — by restricting third-party APIs from requesting sensitive information, such as login or email scopes, you can ensure your data and user data stays secure.

When all third party API access is blocked, an app will not be able to access any Workspace user date, across web and mobile. If users try to authorize an untrusted app, they’ll see an authorization error message. Admins can customize this error message if they choose.

Getting started 

Rollout pace 


Cloud Covered: What was new in March on Google Cloud

Spring brings new growth and possibilities, and with COVID-19 vaccinations underway, this spring feels even more hopeful than usual. In the spirit of spring, the most popular Google Cloud blog posts from last month focused on the new: features, resources, innovations and awards. Here’s our recap.

Our popular cheat sheet helps you learn Google Cloud technologies in four words or less.
Back by popular demand, our developer’s cheat sheet summarizes Google Cloud products, each in four words or less, for a quick, handy reference. You can print the cheat sheet and post it by your desk, or make it your desktop wallpaper. If you see a product that piques your interest, learn more about it on our GitHub page. Or check out a couple of other resources mentioned in the same blog: GCP Sketchnotes describe each Google Cloud product in a format that combines art and technology. The video series Cloud Bytes summarizes individual Google Cloud products in less than two minutes. 

Google Workspace showed off new features.
A mantra that captures the last year of work might be “flexibility in the face of change.” Last month we announced new features in Google Workspace that will help in all the ways work gets done in an ever-changing world. Many features will contribute to what we call collaboration equity, or the ability to contribute equally, regardless of location, role, experience level, language or device preference. We also launched a new offering, Google Workspace Frontline, to open up safe and secure communication and collaboration channels between frontline workers and corporate teams. Finally, we shared that Google Assistant can now be used with Google Workspace for tasks like joining a meeting or sending a message. 

Users can now include carbon emissions in their app’s location choice.
We recently set a new sustainability goal: running our business on carbon-free energy 24/7, everywhere, by 2030. Decarbonizing our data center electricity supply is the critical next step in realizing that carbon-free future and providing Google Cloud customers with the cleanest cloud in the industry. Last month, we were excited to share news about our new Carbon Free Energy Percentage (CFE%), which will help our customers select Google Cloud regions based on the carbon-free energy supplying them. This way, our customers can incorporate carbon emissions into decisions on where to locate their services across our infrastructure. 

Undersea cables connect the world.
Speaking of infrastructure, Google works hard to build technologies that connect people, geographies and businesses. Last month, we announced our new investment in Echo, a subsea cable that will run from California to Singapore, with a stopover in Guam, with plans to also land in Indonesia. Additional landings are possible in the future. Echo will be the first-ever cable to connect the U.S. to Singapore with direct fiber pairs over an express route. It will help users connect even faster to applications running in Google Cloud regions in the area, home to some of the world’s most vibrant financial and technology centers. 

Google Cloud rode the Forrester Wave of recognition.
Google was named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Cloud Data Warehouse, Q1 2021 report. Using feedback from our customers as one of their inputs, Forrester measured and scored BigQuery, our cloud data warehouse for analyzing lots of data quickly, and gave it a 5 out of 5 across 19 different criteria. Forrester said, “Customers like Google’s frequency of data warehouse releases, business value, future proof architecture, high-end scale, geospatial capabilities, strong AI/ML capabilities, good security capabilities, and broad analytical use cases.”  

That’s a wrap for March! Stay tuned to the Google Cloud blog for all things cloud.

Cloud Covered: What was new in March on Google Cloud

Spring brings new growth and possibilities, and with COVID-19 vaccinations underway, this spring feels even more hopeful than usual. In the spirit of spring, the most popular Google Cloud blog posts from last month focused on the new: features, resources, innovations and awards. Here’s our recap.

Our popular cheat sheet helps you learn Google Cloud technologies in four words or less.
Back by popular demand, our developer’s cheat sheet summarizes Google Cloud products, each in four words or less, for a quick, handy reference. You can print the cheat sheet and post it by your desk, or make it your desktop wallpaper. If you see a product that piques your interest, learn more about it on our GitHub page. Or check out a couple of other resources mentioned in the same blog: GCP Sketchnotes describe each Google Cloud product in a format that combines art and technology. The video series Cloud Bytes summarizes individual Google Cloud products in less than two minutes. 

Google Workspace showed off new features.
A mantra that captures the last year of work might be “flexibility in the face of change.” Last month we announced new features in Google Workspace that will help in all the ways work gets done in an ever-changing world. Many features will contribute to what we call collaboration equity, or the ability to contribute equally, regardless of location, role, experience level, language or device preference. We also launched a new offering, Google Workspace Frontline, to open up safe and secure communication and collaboration channels between frontline workers and corporate teams. Finally, we shared that Google Assistant can now be used with Google Workspace for tasks like joining a meeting or sending a message. 

Users can now include carbon emissions in their app’s location choice.
We recently set a new sustainability goal: running our business on carbon-free energy 24/7, everywhere, by 2030. Decarbonizing our data center electricity supply is the critical next step in realizing that carbon-free future and providing Google Cloud customers with the cleanest cloud in the industry. Last month, we were excited to share news about our new Carbon Free Energy Percentage (CFE%), which will help our customers select Google Cloud regions based on the carbon-free energy supplying them. This way, our customers can incorporate carbon emissions into decisions on where to locate their services across our infrastructure. 

Undersea cables connect the world.
Speaking of infrastructure, Google works hard to build technologies that connect people, geographies and businesses. Last month, we announced our new investment in Echo, a subsea cable that will run from California to Singapore, with a stopover in Guam, with plans to also land in Indonesia. Additional landings are possible in the future. Echo will be the first-ever cable to connect the U.S. to Singapore with direct fiber pairs over an express route. It will help users connect even faster to applications running in Google Cloud regions in the area, home to some of the world’s most vibrant financial and technology centers. 

Google Cloud rode the Forrester Wave of recognition.
Google was named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Cloud Data Warehouse, Q1 2021 report. Using feedback from our customers as one of their inputs, Forrester measured and scored BigQuery, our cloud data warehouse for analyzing lots of data quickly, and gave it a 5 out of 5 across 19 different criteria. Forrester said, “Customers like Google’s frequency of data warehouse releases, business value, future proof architecture, high-end scale, geospatial capabilities, strong AI/ML capabilities, good security capabilities, and broad analytical use cases.”  

That’s a wrap for March! Stay tuned to the Google Cloud blog for all things cloud.